Layoff Advice From Experience

A ton of people have had a really bad time recently, with 200,000+ lay-offs over the past few months. I had a thread on birdsite last year with some good advice, so I thought I'd recap and generalize it here.

Things suck for a lot of folks. And they're going to suck for a little while.

I'm sorry.

Getting laid off a month before my 4th work anniversary felt almost exactly the same as finding out my long-term relationship was over because she was cheating on me. The same feelings of betrayal. The same sudden emptiness. The same massive, unplanned changes to life and routine.

Recognize that this is a sudden, drastic life change. Your routines are all destroyed. Your social circle may have just changed drastically. Don't be afraid to lean on your friends; they're there for you.

I don't know how long your runway is, but take some time to decompress. Whether that means tackling some projects you put off, or digging into your To-Be-Read pile, or binging on every season of Survivor is up to you.

Have some light conversations with contacts that you're in the market, but let the resume/application/interview prep wait a bit. It can wait, and will be better if your head is screwed on straight.

Interviewing is a specific skill-set, and you may benefit from waiting before jumping right to interviews. Again, this all depends on how long your runway is. Some limiting factors are immigration status, requiring heath insurance, or immediate monetary needs. All this advice is subject to change based on your specific circumstances. Review the current articles, gather your great stories, and start editing your anecdotes.

Take the swag and put it away. Don't throw it out, just tuck it out of sight. Maybe you'll come to a place where it reminds you of the good times you had. Maybe you'll decide to ceremonially burn it in the woods (responsibly). But it can wait until your head stops spinning.

Sometimes you lose a political game you didn't even realize what happening. Sometimes someone three levels above you loses a political game THEY may not have realized was happening. Neither one is good, but putting the pieces together helped me.

The same truth about dating (there's no “one”, you make the relationship through work) applies to companies too. Your last team may have been something special, but you can make a great place and team with good people anywhere. You can make a new special. YOU can make a new special.

I thought I had found a place I was going to spend the next 30 years at and retire from. Between internal politics and the 2017 tax code change, that rug was pulled out from under me. Since then, I've had two great positions where I'm doing even better work. But the trust of just standing on a rug is gone. Now I'm always read to jump.

Be okay with sitting in the weird quiet for a bit. Then dust yourself off and make a new special.